Imagine An America Where Crops Are Watered With Gatorade.
Where people are named not after relatives or personal heroes, but corporations and menu items from fast food restaurants. An America where the smartest citizens are openly mocked, and the least intelligent are given all of the power. This is the world predicted by the film “Idiocracy,” and there are a great many signs that we’re heading toward that future at a much more alarming pace than the film itself estimated.
Mike Judge’s seminal 2006 comedy film tells the story of a time-traveling underachiever who, accompanied by a prostitute, becomes the smartest man on Earth in a dystopiate future 500 years removed from present day. The film was a box office flop, but has steadily become a cult classic. And as the 2016 race begins to heat up, many memes throughout social media are starting to recognize the terrifying parallels between the film and current events.
One contemporary figure makes the case for this theory on his own: Donald Trump. To a person of even passable intellect, Trump is a loudmouthed Neanderthal, a racist, misogynist ignoramus of the worst variety imaginable. A Trump presidency would absolutely decimate this country to the point where we’d yearn for the days of George W. Bush. But more surprising than the horribly xenophobic statements he makes about immigrants, or the terrible things he says about women, or the gut-wrenching ideas he’s presenting for the future of this country, is the simple fact that Donald Trump is actually winning the Republican primary, and what’s more, he’s impressing an alarming number of independents as well.
To highlight just how rapidly America’s collective IQ is deteriorating, consider that it wasn’t all that long ago — just seven years ago, in fact — that John McCain chose Sarah Palin to be his running mate in the 2008 presidential election. Most analysts will argue that Barack Obama was going to win in 2008 regardless, but McCain choosing Palin and thrusting her into the limelight turned Obama’s assuredly healthy 2008 victory into the biggest electoral landslide since the 1980’s. American voters were horrified by the notion that Palin could be a heartbeat away from pageant-walking into the Oval Office and playing her proverbial flute while America burned to the ground around her.
I hope I’m not coming across as an intellectual elitist here, because I’m certainly not one. I established myself as a satirist long before I was ever considered a serious writer, and I was never one to shy away from a grade of potty humor that would probably make a solid ninety-percent of you run for the hills. But intentional comedy is just that: comedy. It’s meant to be perverse, to make you uncomfortable, to be silly and fun. But Donald Trump isn’t a comedian. The cast of Fox & Friends aren’t doing a live set of sophisticated improv. There really are people in this world who think Michele Bachmann was, and still is, a brilliant political mind. And Herman Cain’s 2012 campaign wasn’t put together by my friends at National Report or The Onion as an elaborate prank on the American electorate.
America is becoming a country where ignorance is celebrated. Where Donald Trump, with all of his bluster and bullheadedness, is desired by some to be our next leader, not because he’s proven beyond any reason of doubt his stellar intellect, but because he lacks a filter. He has balls, which should in no way be confused with gravitas. It’s not so much the things he’s saying as the way he’s saying them; he isn’t afraid to racially profile every person of Mexican descent, he isn’t afraid to throw sexist ridicule at Megyn Kelly, and that doesn’t make him a senseless pig, but a folk hero. This ignorance is, in the eyes of his supporters, a good thing, because America shouldn’t be overly sensitive, and they want a “leader” who is willing to say the things that have become too societally inacceptable for them to say themselves.
In Any Number Of Ways, A Trump Presidency Would Seem Remarkably Similar To That Of President Camacho From Idiocracy.
Trump would be a feckless thug, ignorantly and arrogantly making demands and throwing around threatening language when he doesn’t get his way. His would be an administration not focused on progress, but the act of intimidation, of frightening his opposition to fall in line, or else. There would never be a concern that he’d be the smartest person in any given room, because he wouldn’t be. President Trump would be, for all intents and purposes, a dictator with term limits.
We live in an era of self-driving cars, of hyperloops, of robots carrying out menial house chores. An era where every last drop of information ever compiled by mankind is available on a tiny device we carry around wherever we go in our pockets, a device we merely ask a question to, speaking out loud, and the answer to anything is presented to us instantly, no matter how complex or trivial. H.G. Wells would be proud, at least until he realized we’re equal parts Eloi and Morlock.
Regardless of all these amazing technological strides mankind has taken, we still live in a world where Donald Trump is topping Hillary Clinton in the polls. Where Fox News is the most-watched cable news network. Where it’s perfectly acceptable to argue against raising the minimum wage, or installing some form of true universal healthcare, or accepting the harsh realities of climate change and attempting to save this planet. The data is there, and it’s indisputable, and yet we still have wiggle-room for debate and feel the desire to coddle the less-initiated among us.
Perhaps a major component of this problem is how we’re using that technology. Rarely will you see someone use Google’s voice search, Apple’s Siri, or Microsoft’s Cortana to ask questions about classical literature or the statistics involved in climate change. The questions are often menial… who starred in a film, or how to get to that Greek takeout place, or how to enchant a diamond pickaxe in Minecraft.
The problem isn’t Donald Trump, folks… the problem is us. Donald Trump is successful because we’re letting him be successful. America’s collective IQ is plummeting because we’ve lost the desire to be inquisitive, to push ourselves mentally, to ask when we don’t understand and to challenge answers that appear bias to us. What can we do, besides purchasing stock in Brawndo and bracing ourselves for the worst? I don’t really have the answer to that, though I’m pretty sure cracking open a book now and then might make for a decent start.